In psychiatry, anxiety is defined as an unpleasant emotional state, in which there is a subjective feeling that can be interpreted as danger, discomfort, tension or apprehension, generally the trigger for this feeling is not recognized or well defined, because anxiety is generated when the person imagines a danger that is unlikely and is not immediately present.

Types of anxiety

There are different anxiety disorders , and they differ from it because they are usually more intense episodes and that can last over time, for example , anxiety or panic attacks , they are episodes of acute and intense anxiety that appear out of nowhere, are They occur at least once a month and the person is concerned that it will recur.

An anxiety attack can generate physical reactions such as rapid heartbeat, muscle tension, dry mouth or sweating.

Breathing to control an anxiety attack

Little thought is given to how we breathe and how it contributes to our emotional state.

The way we breathe directly reflects the level of tension we carry in the body and can aggravate or lessen the symptoms of anxiety or an anxiety attack.

Relaxation through breathing has been shown to be beneficial for people suffering from anxiety attacks.

In this article you will find some breathing exercises that will help you cope with an anxiety crisis .

Breathing exercises

They are the oldest known procedure for reducing anxiety levels. These techniques, also known as pranayamas, are intended to teach people to improve the functional capacity of their lungs , in turn regulating their natural respiratory rhythm.

Thus, the person learns to voluntarily control his breathing, so that he can apply it in situations where breathing is altered ( anxiety attacks ).

By achieving a diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing, and a slow respiratory rhythm, physiological and psychological activation is reduced, generating a generalized feeling of tranquility and well-being, since:

  • Increases the supply of oxygen to the brain and muscles.
  • The parasympathetic nervous system is activated which provides a state of relaxation and rest.
  • Increases the sense of connection between mind and body.
  • Improves concentration.

Types of respiration

Depending on the muscles involved and the areas where inhaled air accumulates, three types of respiration are defined :

  • Rib breathing : This is the shallowest and most common breathing, but the least healthy, since most of the air accumulates in the upper part of the chest, so that complete ventilation does not occur.
  • Diaphragmatic breathing : great mobility of the lower ribs and upper abdomen is generated, in addition the diaphragm actively participates. Physiologically it is the most appropriate
  • Abdominal breathing : the chest remains immobile and it is the abdomen that shows extraordinary mobility.

Types of breathing exercises

These exercises using breathing can greatly improve an anxiety attack and reduce symptoms.

Deep breathing

It is a useful exercise for the reduction of anxiety attacks , it consists of:

  • Sit comfortably, place the left hand on the abdomen and the right on the left.
  • Imagine an empty bag inside the abdomen.
  • Begin to breathe and notice how the abdomen fills with air and how the wave rises to the shoulders.
  • Inhale for 3-5 seconds.
  • Hold your breath .
  • Inwardly repeating “my body is relaxed”
  • Exhale the air slowly, at the same time that you give yourself indications or suggestions for relaxation.

It is ideal to perform 4 or 5 breathing exercises in a row and repeat the exercises between ten and fifteen times a day, in the morning, afternoon, and night.

Counted breath

It is based on practicing diaphragmatic breathing , directing the air to the lower part of the ribs and, when inhaling, you think of one word (eg calm) and another when exhaling (eg tranquility).

It is recommended to do it ten times in a row and repeat the exercise about twenty times.

Abdominal breathing

It is about training breathing by moving only the abdomen, trying to keep the thoracic and clavicular muscles immobile.

It is done by inhaling deeply so that the body receives a full supply of oxygen. This triggers a series of physiological events that lead to relaxation and decrease anxiety.

Alternate breathing

This exercise consists of:

  1. Use a comfortable and relaxed position. ??
  2. Place the thumb on the right nostril and the ring and middle fingers on the left. ??
  3. Close the right window with your thumb and inhale with the left slowly and calmly.
  4. Separate the thumb and occlude the left window with the other fingers. ??
  5. Exhale through the right window. ??
  6. Hold your breath for a moment and breathe in from the right, keeping the left closed.
  7. When you want to breathe out, it should be done from the left.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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